Difficult times lie ahead

Angling is set to be one of the hardest hit sports when chancellor George Osborne's spending review starts to bite into the pockets of working people who love their fishing.

And those optimists talking up the prospect of a tidal barrage to protect the Broads from high sea tides are almost certain to be told, 'not within the foreseeable future'.

Anglers cannot escape the harshest measures to be imposed on the people since the second world war.

Nearly half a million workers in public services, many of whom will be anglers, can expect to be deciphering details on their P45 tax form, probably for the first time in their lives.

In the private sector there may well be just as many employees dumped on the scrap heap of a broken economy.

Many fishing tackle and bait shops, commercial fisheries, angling club members, pensioners and disabled anglers and the guy who just wants to escape life's trials with a rod and line at the waterside will feel the pinch with little loose change to spend on day permits, the bait and the cost of fuel to get to their favourite angling venues.

This also applies to sea anglers now forking out up to �20 per hundred for lugworm and it costs just as much for the round trip from Norwich to the North Norfolk beaches to dig their own.

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At the Barford Fishery, one of the most populated by open match and club anglers throughout the year along with a tackle and bait shop, the early warning system had already gone off yesterday.

Fishery manager Sarah Thomson said she expected a downturn in trade worse than the recent recession and plans were already being laid to try and cope with it.

'We have already suffered a falling away of numbers fishing the lake this year through economic reasons, and this week's announcement that many people will be suffering from the financial cutback will not help us,' she said.

'It has been said that the unemployed go fishing to forget their troubles.

'That may have been true once but not any more because nowadays all recreation costs money.'

She concluded: 'We try and peg permit charges but we have to make a living ourselves and with fewer people coming through the gate it has not been easy this year and I fear we may have to tighten our belts further and try to economise wherever possible.'

John Lambert, who runs retail fishing shops in Norwich and Beccles, said trade was already suffering a down turn.

'The ordinary angler simply cannot afford to spend his diminishing cash resources on big items like poles, rods and reels and the chancellor's announcement does not encourage me,' he said.

At the Norwich and District Anglers' Association chairman Tony Gibbons said plans were already being formulated to combat any financial hardship among the membership.

'I can say now that the cost of joining the Norwich Association and annual subscriptions will be frozen for the coming year and it may be possible to negotiate lower rents with our landlords if they are prepared to make concessions to help us continue our policy of providing value for money facilities,' he promised.

On the chancellor's agenda is a plan to crack down on tax evasion.

This may not seem important to the sport of angling but the sponsored matchman who wins considerable prize money during the season would be well advised to declare his annual income including sponsorship support along with his expenses to HM Revenue and Customs to stall that official looking envelope embossed with a crown dropping through the letterbox.

Among the authorities affected, Defra is to be scrutinised and be subject to a cut of nearly 30pc across four years and that could lead to reduced services from the Environment Agency.